NEXTGEN DIARIES: LAURA WHIBLEY

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I’m working from home in Epsom. I’m very lucky to have a garden, which due to the lovely weather I’ve been spending every spare moment in since lockdown. It took a few days to adjust to the lack of commute and new day to day routine, particularly as there is no strict end of the day but now the G&T Epsom satellite office is set up on the dining room table things have been running pretty smoothly since. I’ve found it very strange not to be surrounded by the rest of the team – missing bouncing ideas, swapping stories and experiences throughout the day. The team environment is so important to my role, working from home every day I’ve found it’s almost impossible to recreate it virtually.

For a large company whose workforce before this crisis was predominantly based in the office, G&T adjusted to the ‘new normal’ very quickly. Our IT team was fantastic, getting everyone set up and working from home almost immediately. Since then we’ve received regular updates from the firm on the market situation and the outlook for the business, keeping us up to date on the evolving picture as and when it emerges.

Luckily, I am able to do the majority of my day to day work in a very similar way to before as it was mostly based online. Although the output might be very similar, I’m missing the face to face interaction and spontaneous conversation that was a very natural part of working in the office. It’s hard to work in isolation in our industry as the majority of work relies on working with other people. Meetings and team brainstorming sessions that would previously have happened in person now take place over video calls and it’s not as easy to bounce ideas off each other over a screen, especially when you’re trying not to speak over people and navigating the mute button. Everyone has had to adjust styles and approaches that would normally be taken for granted.

It’s difficult to think about how this might change the future of the industry. There were already so many challenges the built environment was facing before Covid-19, climate change, the skills shortage, changing consumer behaviour and digital disruption just as a few. The current situation could cause these challenges to evolve or change completely, but overall I think the industry will still rely heavily on human to human interaction to tackle them. To focus on something positive, there is hope that this situation will encourage increased diversity of thought and ideas across the sector. With less importance being placed on people’s location due to increased use of technology there is the opportunity for us to be more efficient day to day and spend time on the things that really matter – bringing in new opinions, new concepts and new ways of tackling these challenges. The platforms we use might change but the importance of human interaction, creativity, debate and industry discussion will still be the foundation and at the forefront of our industry for many years to come.